Amateur Gardening, the UK’s oldest gardening magazine, is to close after 139 years – with its editor blaming the high cost of seeds on its cover.
Founded in London in 1884, the weekly magazine had a circulation of 300,000 copies in its heyday in the 50s and 60s.
Gardening guru Alan Titchmarsh’s first job in journalism in 1976 was as deputy editor of the magazine before he went freelance three years later and got his big break on TV.
Its other celebrated writers have included Gardeners’ World hosts Monty Don, Toby Buckland and Percy Thrower as well as Ground Force presenter Charlie Dimmock.
Gardening guru Alan Titchmarsh’s first journalism job was as Amateur Gardener’s deputy editor in 1976. He spent three years with the popular publication, which once had a circulation of 300,000
Packed with practical advice for amateurs, the magazine has been a bible for generations of gardeners seeking tips and inspiration. But in the end of an era for a piece of British horticultural history, the October 14 edition of the magazine will be the last published by multimedia firm Future Plc.
The magazine’s circulation has steadily fallen from 300,000 to around 28,000 and editor of six years Garry Coward-Williams blamed a fatal ‘cocktail’ of soaring costs, reduced revenue and the soaring cost of seeds for its sad demise.
They include a rise of around 20 per cent in the cost to the magazine of the free packets of seeds given away with each edition, a much-loved feature for readers.
Mr Coward-Williams said: ‘People, particularly younger people, are far more inclined to Google to find information. It is more an older generation that want a magazine.
‘But the cause of our closure is more about the cost of printing going up about 18 months ago by about 25 per cent.
‘The cost of paper has gone up and the cost of the free seeds we put on the front of the magazine has gone up.
‘Advertising revenue has dropped significantly in the last six months. So, all of those things conspired together.’ The cover price of the magazine is £2.20 and the value of the free seeds to readers is as high as £3, he said.
Charlie Dimmock, pictured, is one of the gardeners who had previously written for the publication
Monty Don is also among the celebrities who have written for Amateur Gardener
Mr Coward-Williams said: ‘It does not take a mathematician to figure that one out.
‘The seeds did not cost us £3 but the cost to us has gone up by around 20 per cent.
‘We were a high-value, low-cost product. It worked on a scale when we were selling 300,000 copies.
‘But when you are selling 28,000 copies, it is not the same thing. That mechanism just cannot work at the moment and the company could not have made any other decision.’ He said that he has been flooded with calls and emails from ‘absolutely distraught’ readers since news broke of the closure.
He added: ‘Amateur Gardening comes through the letterbox for them and it is part of their weekly routine, what to do in the garden, and it is like a friend.
‘I am sorry for the thousands of loyal readers and our long-standing and much-respected contributors but it’s time to say au revoir.’ The cost of seeds has soared amid high post-pandemic demand after millions of Brits took up gardening during lockdowns.
And with many seeds sourced from Europe, Brexit has meant increased costs for suppliers that are then passed on to buyers.
Amateur Gardening was also no longer able to give away free seeds with copies in Northern Ireland and Ireland post-Brexit.
Celebrity gardener Alan Titchmarsh, 74, spoke of his sadness at the closure of the magazine where he got his first break in the media.
He said: I’m sad that Amateur Gardening will be no more.
‘I remember reading it in my youth at a time when I built my first greenhouse in our Yorkshire back garden.
‘After training at Kew Gardens, I entered the world of horticultural journalism in the late 1970s and eventually became its deputy editor, working with Percy Thrower who had been my hero as a boy.
‘I suppose 139 years isn’t a bad run and it will always hold a special place in my affections.’
Amateur Gardening championed the ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign during World War II when Brits were urged to grow their own food in times of harsh rationing.
In 2000, an Amateur Gardening campaign secured a parliamentary inquiry on the future of allotments in the UK.
Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk